Young hawksbill turtles are unable to dive into deep water and gather in masses of floating sea plants until they’re older.
Having survived the dash to the sea, hawksbill turtle hatchlings are believed to spend their first few years in the open ocean before returning to more sheltered coastal waters. Recent studies indicate that the oceanic phase may be shorter for hawksbills, or even omitted in certain regions, as hatchlings swim less vigorously than those of other species.
When hawksbill turtles are young, they are unable to dive into deep water, and therefore are forced to live in masses of floating sea plants, such as sargassum.
Available data indicate that newly emerged hawksbill turtle hatchlings enter the sea and are carried by offshore currents into major gyre systems where they remain until reaching a carapace length of some 20 to 30 centimeters. At that point, they recruit into a neritic developmental foraging habitat that may comprise coral reefs or other hard-bottom habitats.